The work in progress so far. I am definitely learning new tricks, though I’m not quite sure if they’re all easily visible in the reduced sized image for the interwebs.
A nice way to spend an hour or two after an anti-stigma talk this morning to a group of South Wales Police officers. I’m emotionally whacked out. I do have to go out to an appointment shortly, however, otherwise I’d definitely be asleep before too much longer if not already!
I am noticing that as I tell my story of my mental illness I’m getting more in touch with some of my emotions. It used to be that I would just tell my story with little emotion being visible to anyone else. I seem to be getting more emotional about my story, sometimes almost overwhelmed by it.
The ice-maiden melteth, mayhaps.
I do know that when I get emotional I get so tired afterwards.
I just hope that telling my story helps people in someway and goes some way to helping end stigma and discrimination around mental illness.
I thought I’d show you the progress I’ve made on this drawing. I hope you find it interesting to see how things are progressing with it.
Yesterday, I didn’t get much done as I was whacked out after EMDR therapy in the afternoon. It was very intense with some very powerful physical pains as well as some emotionally upsetting insights. Tears flowed. An hour of discomfort to help to release years and years of emotional/mental pain and suffering isn’t too bad is it?
Today I’ve not done anything. I did an anti-stigma talk to a group of health-care employees for the ABMU Health Board at Singleton Hospital in Swansea. This was on behalf of Time to Change Wales in my role as a champion.
The drive there was horrendous. The rain was absolutely hammering down. Then, it was really difficult to find somewhere to park. I did find somewhere eventually. Then, there was the walk to the hospital and the problem of finding my way to the Chapel/Multi-faith Centre. By that time, the stress of not finding parking easily had caused me to flip into hypervigilance mode and it wasn’t easy to see or decode information.
Eventually I must’ve looked totally lost, a nice man asked me if he could help. When I said the chapel, I noticed another chap had come over and he had a Time to Change Wales badge on and it turns out he was Martin, one of two new champions who had come to observe me.
We had directions to the chapel and the other champion was waiting outside.
I did my talk, became, for me, quite emotional, and left, after chatting with people and Martin and Connor, the other TTCW champion.
I was glad to find my way back to my car, and started to feel a bit spaced out as I drove home. Thankfully the rain had mostly stopped though the spray was horrible.
I’ve eaten and had some tea but I still feel drifty and floaty and I really, really could do with a long nap now. It’s taken nearly 4 hours for me to feel ready to nap. However, I can’t take a nap as I have to drive to Hereford this evening for around 7:15pm. My sat nav said it would be an hour and a half journey there. Perhaps I could have a quick nap …
I know tomorrow I have another anti-stigma talk to do – this time with a group of police officers at Ton Pentre police station – and a medical appointment later in the day. Thursday I’m doing another antistigma-talk to a group of trainee nurses and midwives over in Abergavenny.
I foresee some early nights ahead of me, though most probably not tonight!
This morning, I wanted to do a small drawing (the bristol board is approx. 10cm x 21cm) and try not to get overly fussy and trying to fill every space in. I used fountain pens to draw the line work, and I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to add colour to the design.
I’ve often said it on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group that the members work some fantastic magic in using colour to bring my drawings to life. And they do.
So, I’m working a little of my own magic here!
I don’t often colour my own art in – time constraints can limit me in this. Also, I love drawing so much and it takes me a lot less time to draw a design than it does to colour it. I can safely say I’m quite prolific when it comes to drawing, not so when it comes to colouring.
I’m also colouring this relatively small and less detailed design to fathom out the mysteries of the synthetic brush setting. I think I may be getting the hang of it and how I can make it work for me.
I actually like the less than perfect finish I’ve achieved, which has surprised me for sure. I actually really like the slightly battered feel to the orange pods in the artwork.
I’m usually obsessed with perfectly smooth colour gradients, whether achieved by digital tools or by more traditional methods of blending (whether working with traditional or digital media).
A good friend of mine (yes, you know who you are if you read this) did tell me when I bought my first Microsoft Surface a couple of years ago that it would open ways for me to create art and develop my artistic skills. It certainly has, and continues, to do that for sure.
I am aware that it’s quite a slow process where I’m concerned. Yes, I could go and watch and read tutorials on how to use the various brushes and settings.
I’ve tried that. The information given totally overwhelms me.
Being easily overwhelmed by information or sensations is something that is part of my cPTSD. If I get too overwhelmed, I tend to either walk away, end up in a panic or become fearful to face something again.
However, I do get a sense of satisfaction out of working out or discovering something for myself, when I actually need that something. Once I’ve become confident and comfortable with a particular skill, I’m then ready to discover more add more skills to my personal skill/tool box.
I never stop learning, discovering, and finding new ways to express myself creatively. I may no longer try to use a huge range of different media – my default these days is definitely digital. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that. No doubt I will dabble with new kinds of media or creative skills from time to time (such as my toe-dipping into paper quilling; it’s not at all my kind of thing, but I had to try it to find out).
I still love drawing with pen on paper, but being able to scan that in and add colour digitally means I can make the best of both worlds. I can also keep all the little imperfections and smudges that result from drawing with pen and ink on paper, that add that more human touch to them, if I wish. Or I can draw digitally, keeping things clean and a bit more perfect. Either way works for me.
And so I finally overcome my own personal stigma concerning digital art vs traditional.
It’s Monday so it’s EMDR day for me. I have no idea what the session will bring for me.
What I can say, though, is that though last week’s session was rather emotional and distressing, I seemed to recover quite quickly from it. By Wednesday I’d returned to a state of some contentment and that has mostly stayed with me since then.
I do know I have a busy week with anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales being given tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, and then a double talk next Monday. As well as working on templates for the newest coloring book for Dover Publications Inc, I need to make sure I have time to look after myself and not avoid the feelings I may have after EMDR today.
I also know I have a busy week with other commitments too…
At least there’s some sunshine today, even though there are some big, puffy, grey and white clouds mostly covering the sky. There’s plenty of breaks in the clouds.
After a day of drawing templates for the book I’m working on, I thought I’d spend a little time relaxing by drawing a mandala, and this one is the result.
I’m gutted though; I managed to make a mistake on saving the full sized, layered file, so I’ve lost my high res version. Ho hum. I could always redraw if necessary I suppose. This one wouldn’t print out at all well – way too pixelly.
That’s not the only thing that went wrong today. My combination microwave-fan-grill oven also broke. So, I’ve ordered a new one for delivery this evening.
Add to that and my wrists, fingers, hands are still aching … and I’m going to go and give them a rest as soon as I’ve finished posting this around and about the interwebs.
I do have a busy week coming up with anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales, various appointments and other stuff. I have to use the time available t me to prioritise drawing templates for the book (they all have to be finished by the end of this month). So, if my posts are more sporadic than usual, that’s the reason.
Despite the problems in not saving the file correctly and the oven breaking down, I haven’t had any kind of tearful or angry meltdown. It’s not all that long ago where things like that would absolutely floor me. Today, I weathered them quite well, though there was a bit of a flap and panic around buying a new oven and trying to remember what brand I’ve had that has been the most reliable and long lasting. I’m still thinking did I really need to order one and have it delivered today? Well, given my busy diary this week the answer is yes!
I worked on this mandala over a couple of days. it has a whole range of new motifs in it and is rather organic in nature, with plenty of pods and seeds included. I’m quite happy with it. I think there’s a kind of flow of design and the colours are vibrant enough to please me.
I really wasn’t at all sure about my colour choices as I added colour to the mandala. The beauty of digital art is that it’s much easier to change the colour, which I did do in just a couple of sections. The colour changes means I’m a lot happier with it.
It has no name as I’m not very good at thinking up names for my artwork. Perhaps I should just find some kind of quirky way of lettering or numbering the designs in future.
Drawn and coloured using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
Today I’m feeling really tired and I don’t feel I have many words at the moment – despite what my blog may suggest.
My fingers, hands and wrists are also rather achy which is making typing or drawing (either digitally or traditionally) rather painful. I don’t know what’s caused that. Yesterday I did do a lot of drawing with pencil on paper – sketches for my new book – and a lot of digital art too. No more than I often do though.
I suspect a bit of self-care is needed. I am feeling a bit low. Tiredness doesn’t help, but I’ve slept really well the last couple of days.
Maybe it’s the grey, wet, windy day.
Maybe it’s just emotional weather with no real cause.
Maybe it’s the start of the buildup to EMDR on Monday.
I just know that like the weather my mood will change and brighten.
I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘If only’, not ‘as long as’. I matter. Full Stop.” – Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian writer.
A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world? Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality. www.internationalwomensday.com
Today is International Women’s Day, Furbaby Friday and Dangle Day so what else could I do but combine them all into one design?
I started by sketching them out on dot grid paper. My favourite sketching tool at the moment is any one of the darker tones in the Koh-I-Noor Magic multicoloured pencils range. The thickness of the lead encourages me to be bold in my hand lettering and drawing. It also encourages me to draw on a larger scale than I usually do.
Something else I’ve noticed is that drawing with such a thick (but fun and coloured) pencil,I can’t put all the small details in that appear in the final image in the sketch. It really is a sketch which I can then use as the skeleton, the framework, the architecture for the final design.
The thickness of the pencil also means that my hand lettering is bigger than usual. I can also deliberately wear the lead down into more of a chisel shape which helps with the thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes.
It’s also a pleasure to write with pencil and my writing always feels neater when I do write with a pencil. I have no idea why that is, but it just is.
Anyways, once the design was sketched out, I scanned the design into the Microsoft Surface Studio and used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a Microsoft Surface pen to first ink in the outlines and then add colour, details and texture.
For the colours I kept to a fairly simple colour scheme with pink and purple for the flowers and hearts and the Women’s Day symbol. I just had to use a rainbow to fill the hand lettering (apart from the word ‘women’s’). And the pusscat just had to be mainly white, but I thought peachy-pink stripes would be quite nice.
I have just two images up there at the moment – the recent Daffodil Mandala and the Dragon with Daffodils. Both are available on a range of quality products including wall art and stationery.
My Journey to cPTSD Recovery
Today, I’m feeling more content and settled than I have for a number of weeks. Even though EMDR floored me on Monday, I seem to have been able to find my balance faster than previously. This is a good thing as I do have a contract to fulfil by the end of the month.
I am writing in a journal most days, particularly any insights I have through the day. They seem to be coming more quickly now I’m working on seeing where I’ve told myself a story to avoid any emotional or mental pain. I know this is a coping strategy that people with CPTSD use to protect themselves. However realising this, that I may have avoided the truth of a difficult, traumatic experience or situation makes me feel really stupid. Realising that this is a coping strategy I learned at a very, very young age doesn’t help stop me feeling stupid. There’s also a lot of guilt too as I’m stuck between the story I want to believe, the one that is nice and pleasant, and the truth of the emotional and mental distress I was experiencing and denying I was experiencing. It’s not an easy place to be in. It also makes me quite sad and teary that I’ve done this all my life.
Realising these kinds of things, no matter how painful they are, is part of my journey to recovery from CPTSD. I won’t stop though. To do so would mean I would have to live with the pain the realisation has caused me without any way of dealing with that pain. So the only way is to face up to these things, process them in EMDR and find a way to a healthier relationship with myself, to find a way to become a friend to myself.